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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Blackberries drive summertime memories, recipes

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

Blackberries are a great summertime treat. Growing up, my grandmother had a blackberry bush in her yard. Every summer, I spent time picking blackberries. My grandmother would make blackberry pies and cobblers. Every time the family got together, blackberries would be part of the meal.

The season was just perfect. Just when you would get tired of eating blackberries, they were done for the year. After a few months, you start missing fresh blackberries. In the spring, we would always check the berries to see if they were ripe. As soon as they were, the picking would commence and the cycle would begin again.

When most people think of dumplings, Chicken and Dumplings comes to mind. Dumplings are also great as part of this blackberry dessert. What makes it Cajun you ask? Cajuns were known for using ingredients that were readily available. All ingredients, except for the blackberries, are found in every kitchen. I use bottle water instead of tap water. The filtered water has a neutral flavor that tap water does not have.

Cajun Blackberry Dumplings

4 tablespoons Butter, melted 1 cup Milk 2 large Eggs, well beaten 3 1/2 cups Sugar, divided 2 teaspoons Vanilla 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour 3 teaspoons Baking Powder 4 cups Bottle Water 1 1/2 quarts Blackberries Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, milk, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and stir, but do not over mix.

When dumpling batter is ready, combine water, 2 1/2 cups sugar and blackberries in a large skillet. Cook fruit over a medium heat until mixture thickens. Drop dumpling batter by heaping teaspoons into the blackberry sauce mixture in skillet. Cover and cook until the dumplings rise.

Test them with a fork to see if they are done. When a fork inserted into dumpling comes out clean, remove them from the skillet and continue with the remaining batter.

Serve warm right out of the skillet with the blackberry mixture. Top each dish with whipped cream or ice cream.

Strawberry shortcake is often found on menus in the South during the summer. Since blackberries were readily available, I thought I would use them in place of the strawberries. After a few adjustments, here is my recipe. Mascarpone is Italian cream cheese. It is not as sweet as the cream cheese you are used to.

Blackberry Shortcake with Mascarpone

Shortcake 3 cups All-Purpose Flour 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder 6 tablespoons Butter, chilled and cubed 3/4 cup Heavy Cream 2 mashed Hard-Cooked Egg Yolks 2 tablespoons Butter, melted 1 tablespoons Sugar

Filling 3 pints Blackberries 3/4 cup Sugar 6 ounces Bottled Water 1 1/2 cups Mascarpone cream 4 ounces Heavy Cream 4 ounces Honey Fresh Mint for garnish

Preheat oven to 375℉.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and work with your fingers until the consistency of crumbs. Add the cream and yolks and stir until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a work surface and roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to make rounds. Place shortcakes onto a baking pan. Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool, then split in half.

To make the filling, place the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add blackberries. Whisk mascarpone cream and honey in a different bowl. Now place the blackberry syrup and a dollop of the cheese mixture on the bottom half of each shortcake. Replace the top half and garnish with fresh mint.

Reminiscing about my grandmother has brought a smile to my face. It’s time to go pick some blackberries.

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